How well is your mainframe meeting increasing and ever-changing demands for new business applications and processes, digital transformation, innovation and reduced costs?
A popular auto insurance commercial features a young woman who is talking about an attachment to a car named “Brad.” The car has been through “everything” with its driver, including several major life and career events. Then the car is totaled, and everything they had together is lost. This is a great metaphor for your mainframe, which has supported the major events in your enterprise for years. Although it’s much more difficult to total a mainframe than a car, it can happen. In the meantime, fixing and patching it to meet today’s agile workload demands can “total” your core business systems and resources.
So, what are your options? You might be considering incremental replacement, a complete rewrite, a new front-end (user interface) or rehosting. The front-end and replacement options are stopgap measures that just prolong the life of your mainframe without addressing business challenges. So, that leaves rewriting or rehosting. Rehosting moves existing mainframe applications unchanged to a modern open system, such as an x86 environment on premises or in the cloud. Here are five reasons why rehosting is the smarter solution.
A quick search of “mainframe rewrite risks,” results in numerous articles that say that it’s the riskiest solution. Why is it so risky? First, you have no guarantee that the rewrite will even be successful. Second, reengineering involves a significant amount of programming resources and effort, and it can take years. There will be business disruption and issues with the mainframe during the rewrite process. If your mainframe has been in operation for a quarter of a century or more (and most have), you can’t be sure of the business effects of an overhaul of this magnitude.
Rehosting is much less risky than rewriting. You lose less time, because the process can take as little as 9 months instead of 3-5 years. More importantly, there are no changes to the underlying business logic or user interface and no negative impact on your enterprise. It requires minimal training, and the system operates exactly the same. For example, Kela, a European government agency, reports that rehosting their mainframe had no negative impacts on their business.
A mainframe rewrite is expensive on so many levels (infrastructure, resources, time, effort, and spend) and is not guaranteed to lower costs over the long term. Rehosting, on the other hand, has been proven to dramatically reduce infrastructure and operating costs. These funds then can be reallocated to innovation, such as gradually rewriting legacy apps so they are more flexible, reusable, and able to deliver new ways of exploiting data.
GE Capital is an excellent example. After it rehosted its mainframe environment, the costs of running its portfolio management system fell by 66%. However, GE Capital’s Executive Director of Application Management says the biggest benefit of moving to a platform that integrated easily with the rest of the business was the innovation it enabled.
Investment in legacy UNIX, mainframes, and other proprietary systems is already at historically low levels, and the demand for legacy server operating environments will only continue to decline. One of the main reasons for this, besides cost, is that their proprietary architecture and infrastructure are not designed for all the business changes wrought by big data, IoT, streaming, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and the cloud.
By contrast, rehosting allows for a fast, flexible foundation for quickly responding to market change and future integration requirements. Open operating systems with multiple database and utilities options offer more opportunities for modernizing your legacy software, taking advantage of new, flexible technology such as reusable components, microservices, and containers so you can do more business faster.
A mainframe rewrite or reengineering project is likely to require additional resources who are skilled in the modern languages, technology, and coding required to meet the demands of a disruptive business landscape. With rehosting, IT departments can take advantage of their existing skilled mainframe resources as well as those of open systems and modern technology teams. For example, Kela reported that they were able to rehost their mainframe without adding even one additional resource.
Your customers and employees expect a super-fast, highly personalized experience that resembles what they get on their mobile devices. Rehosting delivers a secure, high-performance, and flexible environment that dynamically scales based on business demand so that your end users experience maximum service and reliability even during peak processing. Rehosting can even transform user experiences and unlock the value of your mainframe apps by exposing those apps to web services for mobile and digital applications.
For more details on the cons of doing nothing, why upgrading is merely “kicking the can down the road,” the risk of rewriting source code, and the solution best able to give you benefits of a re-write with reduced cost and risk, check out this guide.
Paul Bengtson is the Vice President of Sales for TmaxSoft. He has spent more than 20 years selling technology in segments as diverse as big data, analytics, ERP, cloud and SaaS. Paul joined TmaxSoft in 2016 from EFI where he was Sales Director for its ERP solutions. He also has held senior leadership positions with Radius Solutions, where he was VP of North American Sales, and with Misomex, Artwork Systems (now Esko) and Ace Hardware. Paul has a BS in MIS from the University of Iowa and an MBA in MIS from Benedictine University.